Jane Curtin is a Serious Badass on WWHL

Jane Curtin and Harvey Fierstein on Watch What Happens Live
Photo by Charles Sykes / Bravo

Jane Curtin is a badass. As an original cast member on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ she’s a pioneer who paved the way for many of the women who came after her, and by all accounts, she’s normal. If you ever read ‘Live From New York’ written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, you’d learn more about her legendary status, with one select quote from Rosie Shuster, a writer on the long-running series who later married Lorne MIchaels.

Those first five years, only Jane amongst the cast really was able to have a total personal life. I think a few of the guys maybe could have someone back home. Of the girls, you lived and slept and breathed the show. You stayed there. I remember Danny and I, after sleeping over at the office, would walk each other like dogs around 30 Rock just to get a little fresh air. In those first years it was just pure gonzo, total commitment. There was this phenomenon that was exploding and we all threw ourselves into it 200

In an appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Curtin’s I-Give-Zero-F*cks attitude was on point, and she delivered some stellar anecdotes, including the worst guest, feeling like “hired help,” and the sexism. Watch below.

HBO’s ‘The Sentence’ — A Gripping, Powerful Documentary

HBO Documentary, The Sentence ‘The Sentence,’ a new documentary by Rudy Valdez airing today on HBO, is one of the most powerful pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen in years. The documentary focuses on Cindy Shank, a woman who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Though the cocaine belonged to her boyfriend at the time, she broke the law by not reporting it. Her boyfriend was later murdered. When Shank rejected a plea agreement, her case was dropped, leaving her to think the past was behind her. She fell in love, got married, and had three children. But six years later, she was put in prison on federal drug charges, and her three young children were raised by her husband and her devoted, heartbroken family. Determined to parent from afar, Cindy gives viewers a gut-wrenching glimpse into the kind of mother she could have been to these three little girls.

This documentary is apolitical. Though it shines a spotlight on the ramification of mandatory minimum sentences, it’s up to the viewer to form an opinion. Mandatory sentencing is the result of our legislative branch, and it dictates the decisions of our judicial branch. By eliminating judicial discretion with a defined sentence for certain offenses, judges are not permitted to weigh the circumstances surrounding the defendant to determine an appropriate punishment. No one understands this more than Cindy Shank, who lost nine years of her life and precious years of her daughters’ development. Had a judge been able to weigh the hardship of her absence and the details of her actual crime, things might have been different.  Shank appealed her sentence three times, to no avail. She ultimately applied for clemency as a last resort. You’ll have to watch the film to see the result, but I can say that watching such raw, powerful moments on screen is truly unforgettable.

Cindy Shank’s brother began this documentary with home videos meant to capture the critical points in his nieces’ lives so that his sister could revisit what she’d missed. In doing so, he transitioned into making a documentary, despite his limited film experience. He did his homework, and it paid off. Valdez takes the audience inside his sister’s world, as if you are part of his pained family, experiencing the moments along with them.
Until the age of about 28, I saw the world in black and white. Rules make me feel safe, and it’s nice to identify a clear line between right and wrong. But the world is not black and white. And thanks to Rudy Valdez, perhaps our lawmakers will begin to see the grey.

Lena Dunham on WWHL – Good ‘Girls’ Gossip + Calvin Harris Call out

Lena Dunham on Watch What Happens Live
Photo by Charles Sykes/Bravo

As someone fascinated by the early exit of actors from successful series, I’ve long been curious about Christopher Abbott’s abrupt departure from HBO’s Girls in season 3. Though he returned for a cameo in the final season, the speculation has always pointed to a stark creative difference with Lena Dunham. On ‘Watch What Happens Live,’ Andy Cohen got to the bottom of it, and Dunham confirmed their cantankerous relationship, saying Abbott once said he felt “stuck on a sitcom.”

In the video below, you might notice that the press is far more interested in Dunham calling Calvin Harris her “least favorite” boyfriend of Taylor Swift, but I was more entertained by her use of air quotes while saying his name, given that Harris’ real name is Adam Wiles. It’s incredible how a fleeting moment of air quotes can display Harris’ douchiness far more than what she actually said out loud. Watch below.

Kenan Thompson: Kanye West “Held the SNL Cast Hostage”

Kanye West performs on Saturday Night Live
Photo by Will Heath/NBC

In a finite period of time on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Kenan Thompson made some very astute points about Kanye West’s political rant on SNL, and they’re worth noting. For starters, absent the insanity of West’s actual argument, Thompson points out that he made the cast uncomfortable and essentially “held them hostage.” He gathered them around for his rant without revealing his intentions, which awkwardly puts them beside him without their prior consent. Furthermore, though “we are all entitled to our opinion,” according to Thompson, that is “not the time” to voice it. And if you’re going to voice it, at least let people know before you comission their presence. Watch below.

Florence + The Machine at The Hollywood Bowl — Best Concert I’ve Ever Seen

Florence Welch performing at the Hollywood Bowl with Florence + The Machine
Photo by Lillie Eiger

Those who know me personally can testify to the fact that I can be a cantankerous curmudgeon, especially when exhausted. So when I arrived at the Hollywood Bowl to see Florence + The Machine after returning from a two-week trip to Europe (jet lag included), one can only imagine the state of angry affairs. It did not help that the opening act (Kasami Washington) assaulted my ears beyond repair. It was as if he gathered all the greatest musicians he could find and told them to all play at the exact same time at the loudest possible volume. Five drummers pounding their instrument in unison? Check. Trombone? Check. DJ? Check. To say the set was not dynamic would be a drastic understatement. In fact, I angry-tweeted the bowl about the volume, and I turned to my 25-year-old companion to ensure that it wasn’t just my post-millennial age that incited my anger — it simply wasn’t good.

It’s also worth mentioning that I’ve been to a lot of shows at the Bowl and it’s not my favorite venue (I prefer The Greek). But if you ask non-concertgoers in Los Angeles, they will overwhelmingly endorse the Bowl. It’s legendary. Plus, it certainly helps that the Bougie wine and cheese crowd can pay a little extra to sit inside a glorified box — but that’s neither here nor there. It was not until seeing Florence + The Machine that I finally realized the true value of that venue. At approximately 9:15 p.m., Florence Welch entered the stage in unison with her very talented musicians, and it was as if the heavens opened up and released a gift from G-d amidst the stars and the mountains. The aesthetics of a show are often overlooked, and I finally understand the significance of optimizing every inch of space available. Her staging was impeccable, with perfect lighting and a background that looked as if it was pulled from a very expensive home, which made the large area feel incredibly intimate. As for the fashion, there are no words, but I’ll try. Florence wore an ethereal dress with a fluid fabrication that created a free-spirited ease while she performed. As she threw her entire body into each song and effortlessly floated around the stage, the lyrical layers of her dress created an irreverence matched only by Florence’s personality. And speaking of her personality, her audience asides often involved suggesting that we all hold hands and express our love — even to total strangers. Though I did not obey, I can certainly appreciate her oddities.

Florence is on tour to promote her third album, ‘High As Hope,’ and I admit I was unfamiliar upon arrival. I’m a fan, of course, but I had not yet listened to the record, which was ultimately an advantage. For starters, my brain wouldn’t fill in the gaps with familiarity, so the experience was fully fresh and unbiased. The fact that her live performance exceeded the record is an incredible accomplishment. There’s tons of time to get the record right, but there’s only one moment to perform it, and when done right, the dramatic effect is unmatched. There was a moment, for example, when she sang the lyrics to “Patricia,” and one moment particularly stuck out.  “You’re a real man, and you do what you can / You only take as much as you can grab with two hands / With your big heart, you praise G-d above / But how’s it working out for you, honey? / Do you feel loved?” Because Florence revealed the song to be about “toxic masculinity,” when she delivered those particular lyrics, there was a palpable intensity, as if she was single directly to its subject.

I do not say this lightly, but of all the concerts I’ve seen in my life, Florence + The Machine wins the award for best show ever. She might have ruined me for life.

Kirsten Bell Smokes Weed in Front of Dax Shepard — and He’s Okay With It

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard

Let me begin this post by admitting my bias. I hate weed. I’ve hated since I became fully aware of the drug, and I’d go into further detail, but absolutely no one wants that. It also bears mentioning that in the early days of my blog, I received support from Kristen Bell via twitter, and I’m nothing if not loyal. So here goes.

Not too long ago in Los Angeles I saw Kristen Bell on a panel promoting ‘The Good Place,’ and I distinctly remember a weed joke. At the time, my first thought went to Dax Shepard, who is honest about his sobriety. “Should she be smoke weed when her husband is sober?” I thought. In fact, when a close friend (who is sober) of mine married a woman who enjoys wine with dinner, I too objected. Because in addition to being loyal, I’m also judgmental, and that is NOT a fun combination. What ensued was a heated argument with the accusation that I was insulting his wife, at which point I declared concern for his well-being instead. When he furthered that it’s his life and I am not his sobriety manager — it did not go well.

While on ‘The View,’ Bell said,  “If you’re not using your critical thinking skills and you can’t give me the benefit of the doubt in a situation and you just come at me, I don’t have time for that, I just don’t. I respond to positive things.”  Furthermore, Dax likened it to  “asking a diabetic spouse [not to] ever eat sugar in front of me.” For starters, I don’t think that’s analogous. First and foremost, weed is NOT legal. It might be “legal” on the state level, but it is NOT legal on the federal level, which means it is not legal (see the Supremacy Clause). Second, Shepard’s analogy does not hold weight. Diabetics are not addicted to sugar. It’s a privilege that now needs to be managed, and while it’s a bummer to have it regulated, it is not an addiction. However, if a diabetic was in fact struggling to limit their intake, I’d suggest a lifestyle change in the home, which would involve a team effort. Third, while Dax Shepard might be OKAY with Kristen Bell smoking in front of him, that doesn’t mean it’s positive for his psyche. I’ve been in relationships with alcoholics, and I’ve always stopped my consumption as a result. This is not because I’m a better person, it’s simply because it feels personally cruel to engage in an activity of which my partner cannot. We are a team. We are in it together, and as a member of that team, I will forgo something that was never too important to me anyhow.

As a personal exercise I thought, “What if my husband had a deadly cheese allergy? Would I eat it anyhow?” After all, I might not care about alcohol but I certainly care about cheese. I’ve got no good answer for that one. Perhaps I’m loyal, judgmental AND a hypocrite.

‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’ — Soundtrack Out Now

Sierra Burgess is a Loser Cover ArtMy inner tweenie is elated by today’s release of ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser,’ especially on the heels of my two favorite Netflix rom-coms, ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ and ‘The Kissing Booth.’ It’s an exciting time for teen flicks, and it’s especially exciting that Netflix has introduced us to some new stars, including the very endearing  Noah Centineo, who seems to have stayed humble on the heels of his massive shot into the fame stratosphere.  The film also stars Shannon Purser, Kristine Froseth, and RJ Cyler. Directed by Ian Samuels and written by Lindsay Beer, the story centers on Sierra (Shannon Purser), an intelligent teen who does not fall into the shallow definition of high school pretty but, in a case of mistaken identity that results in unexpected romance, must team with the popular girl (Kristine Froseth) in order to win her crush (Noah Centineo).

The release of today’s Netflix film is accompanied by a new soundtrack, which was scored by Leland (Troye Sivan, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez) and Bram Inscore (Troye Sivan). It has nine original songs, and it’s the first release on Leland’s own label Good Pop in partnership with Sony/ATV and Black Label Media. The soundtrack features performances by Sabrina Carpenter, MNEK, Betty Who, Allie X, K.I.D, Carlie Hanson along with a duet between Leland and Vincint called “Middle of Love.”  A full track listing can be found below, and you can find it on any streaming platform.

The Other Side (Performed by Betty Who)

Lights (Performed by Leland)

Kid Wonder (Performed by Allie X)

Half of You (Performed by MNEK)

The Phone Call – Score from the Motion Picture

Lie for Love (Performed by Sabrina Carpenter)

Sunflower – Movie Version (Performed by Shannon Purser)

Latitude (Performed by Leland)

Sunflower – Synth Reprise (Performed by Allie X)

I Don’t Change (Performed by K.I.D)

Middle of Love (Performed by Leland and Vincint)

The Parking Lot – Score from the Motion Picture

Paper Love (Performed by Allie X)

Goodbye (Performed by Carlie Hanson)

All the News I’ve Missed — Your List of Links

David Arquette and Courney Cox came together for Coco. Too Fab

Kendall Jenner and Anwar Hadid are heating up. Hollywood Life

Alexander Skarsgard and Charlize Theron might be an item. ET Online

Khloe Kardashian doesn’t care what you think of her relationship. The Stir

Kourtney Kardashian’s sisters clearly don’t like her ex-boyfriend. TMZ

Katie Lee (Billy Joel’s ex-wife and resident foodie) remarried. E Online

The stars of Flipping Out had a falling out. Radar

Is Roseanne Barr moving to Israel? Jezebel

Bachelor Nation has a new couple. People

Dakota Johnson and Chris Martin have matching tattoos. Blemish

Michael Lohan and his lady love are leaving their marriage behind. D Listed

Hilary Swank tied the knot. Wonderwall

Ruth Wilson Shades ‘The Affair,’ and Showtime Responds in Kind

Ruth Wilson as Alison in The Affair (Season 4, Episode 6) Photo: Ali Goldstein/SHOWTIME

Anyone who knows television history or has worked in Business Affairs is aware of the monumental change that occurred as a result of the ‘Friends’ cast, who formed a fierce front for their salary demands on the heels of the show’s massive success. Leading the charge was David Schwimmer, who stood to make the most money by comparison to his castmates, given that he and Jennifer Aniston were the breakout stars. The cast quickly agreed with Schwimmer’s kind proposal, and despite massive push-back from the powers that be, they refused to back down, insisting that they all deserved to be paid the same. Matt LeBlanc once recounted that the negotiations got so heated he once had to walk off the set in solidarity with his castmates, who were all receiving their own type of pressure.

Since the “Friends deal” entered the consciousness of television pay, we’ve now entered a new world, with new issues to tackle. Women are rising up against pay disparities, and Hollywood actresses have boldly declared their distaste for being paid less than their male costars. One such actress is Ruth Wilson, who recently made the world aware that she gets paid less than her costar Dominic West, despite having received a Golden Globe for her role on the Showtime series. Wilson said, “Certainly when I signed up to that project, I would have got paid less. Then they [the producers] might argue, ‘Well, he’s already done a major American TV show [‘The Wire’] so he’s already got a level.’ But even after a Golden Globe I’m not going to be on parity.” Dominic West got wind of her statements and said, “There was absolutely no reason for her to get paid less than me, and that’s part of what is being hopefully confronted now. You can’t get away with it anymore, and there’s no reason why a producer should get away with that.” But here’s where it gets sticky. When asked if he’d take a pay cut, West said, “I would as long as the resources are limited, and in an independent film then of course, but in a long-running TV show, money is not a problem and there’s no excuse for it.”

In Hollywood, almost everyone’s deal is negotiated separately, but people talk, and it’s easier than you’d imagine to find out salaries. And since everyone is connected, it’s even easier for actors to stand united (like the ‘Friends’ cast) in their negotiation demands. Remember when Ellen Pompeo tried to get Patrick Dempsey to unite and he declined? Conversely, Jessica Chastain recently wielded her power on behalf of Octavia Spencer, with Spencer making five times her salary as a result. It therefore stands to reason that West could have done the same. While I don’t blame West for failing to navigate these uncharted waters, the Mark Wahlberg debacle should teach men an important lesson. While fighting for yourself, you can also fight for others, and that includes banding together.

It is now no secret that Ruth Wilson exited ‘The Affair.’ Though no explanation was given, showrunner Sarah Treem made it clear Ruth wanted to leave the show. Contract law would mean she can’t leave unless the studio approved of her exit, which sometimes occurs in this industry because no one wants an unhappy actor on set, regardless of their importance to the show. Connie Britton left ‘Nashville’ before the end of her contact, for example, and by all accounts her exit was amicable. Britton even appeared in a sendoff on the series finale. In the case of ‘The Affair,’ Wilson’s exit seems far less amicable. Wilson recently said she is not allowed to talk about why she chose to leave the show and in response, Showtime released a cryptic and childish statement, saying, “. . . everyone agreed the character’s story had run its course.” That’s a fancy way of implying she was in fact fired. Clearly, Showtime has had enough of Ruth Wilson, and they fought back. Given that this is a Hollywood show with a female showrunner, I find that response to be disappointing. Either be specific or let Ruth Wilson freely speak about her exit. I also find the timing to be even more curious. One can’t help but wonder if this was about pay and if it was, why wasn’t the situation equitably handled to everyone’s satisfaction? Everyone in that cast has equal screen time, so that brings me back to my original point. Why didn’t they stand in solidarity?

Music Spotlight: The Bad Tenants + Nick Weaver “Switch” Things Up

My secret weapon on all things music has brought a new little gem to my attention, which is a good thing considering the noticeable absence of hip hop on my blog. Seattle’s The Bad Tenants have teamed up with Nick Weaver for “Switch,” a song that’s released on the heels of their special co-headlining event at Neumos. Weaver most recently released a five-song EP ‘Photographs Of Other People.’ Listen below.